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Mega State projects fuel construction boom

By Peter Theuri | September 10th 2021


Nairobi Expressway on Waiyaki Way in Nairobi at Westlands.[Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Increased government spending on infrastructural projects saw the construction sector register a growth of 11.8 per cent in 2020. This was a higher rate compared to the 5.6 per cent in 2019.

Cement consumption rose from 6.1 million tonnes in 2019 to 7.4 million tonnes in 2020, representing an increase of 21.3 per cent.

While releasing the Economic Survey 2020 yesterday, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said loans and advances from commercial banks to the construction sector grew by 3.4 per cent in the year, from Sh115.8 billion in 2019 to last year’s Sh119.7 billion.

It was these special funding arrangements that kept the construction industry going as the rest of the economy slowed down.

As the government strives to make good its affordable housing plan, which is among the four major pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, 2,332 and 338 houses, all public residential buildings built by the State Department for Housing and National Housing Corporation, were completed.

The length of roads under bitumen rose by 1.8 per cent to 22.6 thousand kilometres as at June 2020, from 22.2 thousand kilometres in June 2019.

“The construction of the Nairobi Expressway was at 16.6 per cent completion as at December 31 2020,” Yatani said of the road that is expected to be completed and open to traffic by June 2022.

The road, which stretches 27km and is expected to decongest Mombasa Road and ease access of Westlands from Mlolongo, is one of Kenya’s biggest infrastructural projects. The country has also been keen on upgrading its ports, with the newly opened Lamu Port, with a depth of 17.5 metres, able to handle ships with capacities of up to 12,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

Tom Oketch, chairman of the Institution of Construction Project Managers of Kenya, says the government’s efforts to beat deadlines for flagship projects, such as the Likoni Floating Bridge, Nairobi Expressway and the affordable housing projects are the reason why there is an appearance of ramped up activity in the building and construction industry.

“There was a lull in the private sector for the majority of last year, which does not seem to reflect here. Most of the activity that is captured in this report happened before Covid-19 settled in,” he added.

The re-carpeting of city roads and fitting of cabro in side-walks has also been recorded, further driving up consumption of cement and also providing employment opportunities. Wage employment in the construction sector grew by 33.0 per cent from 173, 300 persons in 2019 to 230,500 persons in 2020. 

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